JOHANNESBURG – Rwandan President Paul Kagame will attend the East African Community (EAC) heads of state summit on Friday in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha, despite earlier suggestions he might skip it to avoid a confrontation with neighbouring Burundi, the East African reported.
Friday’s meeting between Kagame and the presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan comes after two previous attempts to hold the summit in November and December failed due to disagreements between partner states.
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza had requested that the EAC convene an extraordinary summit to address differences with Rwanda.
Animosity between Kigali and Gitega follows the controversies around Nkurunziza’s third term in office in 2015 and an attempted military coup which Burundi accused Rwanda of backing.
In December Nkurunziza said he no longer regarded Rwanda as a partner.
It was unclear whether he would show up for Friday's summit, expected to focus on the resolution of long outstanding non-tariff barriers and a progress report on the adoption of the Political Confederation, the fourth step towards EAC regional integration.
Other items on the agenda include the roadmap for the accelerated integration of South Sudan into the EAC and the verification exercise to admit Somalia.
The heads of state are also expected to green light key bills including the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, which aims to provide a common framework for eliminating the use of plastic bags.
The promotion of motor vehicle assembly in the region, the reduction of used vehicle imports as well as a review of the textile and leather sectors will also be discussed.
African News Agency (ANA)